“On the same page” is a series featuring Utah book clubs.
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SALT LAKE CITY — In the Kaysville/Farmington area, a group of friends has been gathering to discuss books and enjoy food for the past 12 years. The book club, called Friendly Persuasion, originally started as a way to read more classics, but has evolved into a celebration of friendship and good stories. Members gather each year for Christmas, go to the movies together and get their families together occasionally. Friendly Persuasion member Megan Shaw spoke with the Deseret News about her book club, book recommendations and what makes a good discussion.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Deseret News: Where did your book club’s name come from?
Megan Shaw: We were just talking, trying to figure out what to name our group, and we thought, well, we’re all friends, despite different ages and everything, and we’re often recommending books to each other and saying, “Oh, you should read this because of this.” So we said let’s called it “Friendly Persuasion.”
DN: How did the book club get started?
MS: One of my friends, Rebecca, had moved from Salt Lake (to the Kaysville/Farmington area). She was wanting to start something up here because she’d been in a book club in Salt Lake. I actually wasn’t in it (in the beginning). It’s been going for 11 or 12 years, and I’ve only been coming for about seven.
DN: What is a typical meeting like?
MS: We usually meet on the third Thursday. We meet a little later in the evening, because we’re really busy with our kids. There’s awesome food — we have some really good cooks in our group. So this last one, someone made homemade rolls, homemade honey butter, this amazing pasta salad, a big bowl of fruit and these coconut lime cookies. It was incredible. So that’s another reason I really like going.
DN: What kinds of books do you read each month?
MS: We read a lot of different kinds. I know when they started they wanted to read a classic every year, and every now and then they remind us of that, and we’ll read a classic, but they’re not as strict on that as they used to be. We read historical fiction, fiction. … We try to hit a variety of different genres.
DN: How do you choose what books to read?
MS: The way we pick our books is in November, usually, we have everyone bring a few books to recommend and then we vote on it. People pitch and tell us about the books. They’ve done the vote various different ways.
DN: What is Friendly Persuasion reading right now?
MS: For the month of June we read “The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton. It’s about a man who was imprisoned — he was on death row for 30 years — and then was released (because) he was falsely imprisoned. We usually take July off because a lot of people are traveling. I think our book for August is called “Calling Invisible Women.”
DN: Has there ever been a book for the club that you haven’t liked?
MS: I mean, I’ve had some that I haven’t loved. But I don’t think they were a waste of time to read. And we get some really interesting discussion (when people are) on both sides of the fence, when there’s someone who likes it for these reasons and someone who didn’t like it for these reasons.
DN: Do you have any meetings that have been particularly memorable or exciting?
MS: The night we talked about “Beneath a Scarlet Sky.” There were a lot of people there, and that book is amazing. Another one of my favorite memories from book club was (a time when) we had the book discussion, we had the food and then a handful of us stayed really late and got into a really deep discussion. It was probably one of the latest times I’ve ever stayed, but it was so wonderful. And then the next day, we were texting each other saying, “Hey, thanks for coming, I went out and read this article, I really appreciated talking to you guys last night.”
Friendly Persuasion recommends:
“Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” by Mark Sullivan, Lake Union Publishing, 523 pages
“Calling Invisible Women,” by Jeanne Ray, Penguin Random House, 272 pages
“Peace Like a River,” by Leif Enger, Grove Atlantic, 352 pages
“So Big,” by Edna Ferber, HarperCollins, 288 pages
“The Sun Does Shine,” by Anthony Ray Hinton, St. Martin’s Press, 272 pages
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” by Betty Smith, HarperCollins, 512 pages
“We Were the Lucky Ones,” by Georgia Hunter, Penguin Random House, 416 pages
“What Alice Forgot,” by Liane Moriarty, Penguin Random House, 496 pages